Updated: Jan 3
December 30, 2022
Dear Marin County Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors and Staff at the Marin County Community Development Agency, Please consider this email an official comment in advance of the January 5 meeting of the Planning Commission on the Housing and Safety Element Final Environmental Impact Report and the Countywide Plan/Development Code Amendments. It is submitted by Lucas Valley for Responsible Growth (LVFRG), a group of local residents who have come together in response to shared concerns about housing development decisions in the Lucas Valley. The group’s leadership team includes residents with expertise in the following areas: zoning, emergency evacuation, air quality, legal, governmental advocacy and community organizing. The mission of LVFRG is to engage with community members and elected officials to promote responsible planning decisions in Lucas Valley. We support the development of more affordable housing in our community. We advocate for growth that is safely supportable with the infrastructure, commensurate with growth in other parts of Marin, and which preserves the highly-utilized community resource, Lucas Valley Park, and the rich wildlife it supports. In this way, Lucas Valley will continue to offer a high quality of life for both current and future residents. More specifically, we support the spirit of the Housing Element allocation in Lucas Valley and believe that our infrastructure can safely integrate - at a maximum, collectively, and site-specifically - the allocated 80 units at the Jeannette Prandi site, 58 units at the 7 Mt. Lassen Office Park and 26 units at 1501 Lucas Valley Road. This level of growth represents a more than 25% increase in housing units for the LVHA and Rotary Valley communities.
We also are extremely committed to the preservation of Lucas Valley Park as a unique and valued resource to both current and future residents, accessible to all and providing an important social link across our communities. Lucas Valley Park is the only accessible walking path for people with disabilities or who need adaptive equipment such as walkers. It has been used continuously over the past 20 years by senior residents at Rotary Valley Senior Village as well as residents of all ages throughout the Lucas Valley for walks with strollers, dogs, jogging, biking and socializing with neighbors. Many children walk or bike to school along the path. The preservation of Lucas Valley Park is both a disability rights issue and an equity issue. Additionally and importantly, Lucas Valley Park supports a rich diversity of wildlife. Recreational sites such as Lucas Valley Park are a key aspect of the “opportunity zones” prioritized by the State of California to provide higher quality of life to new residents in lower income categories under Assembly Bill 686 which was passed to “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.” The need for this recreational site is underscored in Marin’s Countywide Plan (CWP) which cites the failure of the Las Gallinas Planning Area to meet the Quimby Act standard for parks, even with the inclusion of Lucas Valley Park. Further, Lucas Valley Park is protected space per Ordinance 3193. The permit to construct Rotary Village was conditioned, among other things, on establishing this 9.9 acre recreational area. While State housing mandates allow for the Board of Supervisors to overrule the ordinance, we ask that the spirit of the long-standing and community-supported ordinance be honored. The LVFRG leadership team met yesterday, 12/29, with our Supervisor Mary Sackett and Sarah Jones, Acting Director of the Marin County Community Development Agency, to discuss our concerns regarding proposed development in Lucas Valley. We were heartened by the spirit of collaboration and shared commitment to responsible growth that was expressed at the meeting. We were also pleased to hear that park preservation was a goal of the County.
Additionally, we were reassured to learn that since the Prandi site is owned by the County, there will be an RFP process in which community input and inclusion was assured. We reiterate in this letter what we stated in the meeting - that future development must be conditioned on a thorough evaluation of each project to assure that public safety, infrastructure, recreational, and aesthetic needs are met. The Safety Element and program EIR are not adequate for such an evaluation.
Moving forward, the leadership team at LVFRG is committed to work collaboratively with county officials and members of the community to ensure that approval of housing project development proposals in Lucas Valley, including any with density and County bonuses, will require adequate public safety, supportive infrastructure and public services. In closing, we join with other communities in Marin in urging the Planning Commissioners and Board of Supervisors to uphold the integrity of Community Plans, in considering amendments to the Marin Countywide Plan, Housing Element, and Development Code. The detailed information contained in Community Plans is essential to the County planning process. At the last meeting of the Planning Commission regarding the Marin Countywide Plan Amendments associated with the Housing Element, a very clear consensus was reached that Community Plans should be preserved to the fullest extent possible.
Sincerely, Kristen Brooks
Susan Morgan Tina Pfeil